Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chance favors the prepared mind

We had the opportunity to attend a local hospital gala tonight. Usually these can be rather boring and/or stuffy affairs, depending on who we are sitting with, and what the entertainment is. And this time of year they seem to come one on top of another with various corporate sponsorship responsibilities for the husband.

Tonight I think we both would have been quite content to just hang out at home and chill. But we dutifully got on our nice duds (though I went for more comfy than chic, I hate to say. I still looked good, but I was not getting all gussied up in the cold for this event!) and went out.

To start things off, we had a lovely table of folks to sit with, plenty of pleasant conversation. The meal was fine, quite typical of the Marcus Whitman, but entirely edible. Yummy lemon tart for dessert.

The best part of the evening was the keynote speaker. When I heard he was a photographer I thought, what on earth is he going to talk about that will be relevant to this crowd? Hmmm, think, Sher, think! It's not that great a leap.

Steve Uzzell has had a 35-year career for National Geographic and various corporate accounts, and has won various Communication Arts awards. His work is very lovely.

But going along with the many beautiful photos he showcased, he had an inspiring commentary on problem solving in life and work, and how utilizing his approach to setting up a shot could work for any situation that needs problem solving. His talk was called "Open Roads, Open Minds," and when I went and looked at the list of companies he's presented to, it was pretty impressive.

He walked us through various ad campaigns he had been a part of, and how he had approached the shoot, from scouting locations through to the persistence in getting that one perfect shot. Being able to show a number of shots around "the one," it was amazing to see the difference mere seconds can make.

Over and over again he has seen that "Chance favors the prepared mind," a quote by Louis Pasteur. If he scouts things out, looks at them from various perspectives, maybe comes back every day for a week at different times to see the sun's angles, then he'll get that one-on-a-million shot.

He told of instances where he's driven all the roads around Long Island Sound, looking across at NYC, to get just the right angle of the city. Or he's calculated the sunset times to know where and when he'd need to be to get that one exceptional shot of a bridge with the sun behind it. And he talked about the time he flew for two hours in a helicopter to get the best shot of a bridge, and just happened to get a tractor trailer crossing the bridge, going the right direction, and it was a great color for the shot. Or this shot, where he waited for more than an hour for the only 5 seconds of sun that day.

He talked also about imagining the solution to the problem, and working your way backward to where you currently are. For me, it was a great reminder of that old saying: begin with the end in mind. (Or, as he also said, if you don't know where you're going, any road will do.) And, he talked about golf as being the perfect example of problem solving, looking out to where you want to be, and plotting how to get there. I thought of my dad many times throughout the talk and how much he would have enjoyed meeting this guy, but of course when Steve mentioned golf I knew that they would have become fast friends on the spot!

So, home now and to sleep. Maybe tomorrow chance will favor the well-rested mind?

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